We breathe all the time, and unless doing a yoga or meditation practise of some sort, we rarely pay attention to our breath.
Most of us have moved from our innate diaphragmatic breathing that we begin life with to breathing from the chest.
Breathing from the chest fuels the sympathetic nervous system in the body; the fight or flight mode and so this type of breathing keeps us in a stressed state.
If we can move our breathing from the chest back to the diaphragm, we will activate our parasympathetic nervous system and receive untold benefits:
• Release stress
• Lower the heart rate
• Stabilise blood pressure
• Release tension in the muscles
• Send oxygen to the brain and every part of the body that needs it
• Full oxygen exchange; oxygen in and carbon dioxide out
• Feel calmer and more relaxed
• Build stronger lung capacity
• Boost the immune system
View this short video to guide you through how you can check and correct your breathing and begin to get the wonderful benefits from deeper, diaphragmatic breathing.
Step by step guide to check and correct your breathing:
- Sit on a chair with your back supported, both feet flat on the ground
- Relax your head, neck and shoulders
- Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach just below the rib cage
- Take 3 breaths and notice which hand moves when you breathe
- If the hand on your chest is moving up and down you are breathing from your chest
- Now bring your attention to the hand on your stomach
- Take a deep slow breath in through your nose, and as you breath deeply and slowly visualise the air going down into your stomach
- Feel your stomach gently expand as you inhale and feel your hand rise
- Exhale slowly through the mouth with your attention on your stomach and feel your stomach gently contract and your hand moves down
- Inhale slowly feel the stomach expand, exhale slowly feel the stomach contract
- Do not push or force the breath in any way go slowly and gently
- Repeat this for 5 minutes
It may feel strange and a bit awkward at first, once you get into it though you will feel the benefits and never look back. This is also a great habit to bring into your day as it also serves as a 5 minute meditation practise, double benefits from one exercise!